Input Club Crowdfunds Pressure-Sensitive Mechanical Keyboard

Input Club returned to Kickstarter on July 16 with a bold mission: crowdfunding "the future of mechanical keyboards." That future will purportedly arrive with Keystone, the first product to feature Input Club's new SILO line of switches, which enable analog input on every key. Enthusiasts appear to be ready to believe Keystone truly is the future, as the project raised more than $122,000 in just two days.

At first glance, Keystone closely resembles many high-end mechanical keyboards currently on the market. It features optional per-key RGB lighting; offers a choice between tactile, linear and clicky switches and will be available in full and tenkeyless ANSI-US layouts. The so-called future of mechanical keyboards looks a lot like its present, but if Input Club is to be believed, it should feel quite different.

That's because Keystone's new SILO switches enable analog input similar to that found on the Wooting One, Cooler Master MK850 and others. Digital switches are either being pressed or they aren't. Analog switches distinguish between varying levels of pressure. Other companies have used optical sensors to enable analog input, but Input Club used magnetic sensors for the SILO switches.

Those magnetic sensors are supposed to make the SILO switches more durable than their counterparts. Input Club said the "magnetic switch technology enables near-infinite customization, billion-press durability (20x the industry standard) and analog control benefits for everyone." The first two seem particularly appealing to keyboard enthusiasts; analog input has thus far been targeted mostly at gamers.

However, analog input's appeal is somewhat limited by how willing developers are to support it. Input Club hopes to bypass those concerns in two ways. The first is an AI-powered "adaptive typing" feature to "automatically tweak how far you need to push a key down before sending a signal to your computer" in an effort to minimize errant keystrokes or accommodate particularly delicate typists.

Keystone's promotional video on Kickstarter also suggests the possibility of typing a lowercase character with a light keystroke and an uppercase character with a harder one. Eventually developers could introduce some form of autocomplete, too, capable of suggesting entire words that can then be inserted with a single keystroke. The future of typing according to Input Club might lead to less typing.

The company also plans to introduce a new app called HID-IO that "will make it much easier to interface with different games and applications (like Photoshop or AutoCAD)" by allowing people to instantly optimize the Keystone's layout using different profiles. HID-IO is said to be in its early stages, and Input Club is asking developers interested in contributing to the project to reach out via GitHub.

Analog input isn't supposed to be the Keystone's only selling point. It also features hot-swappable keys that make it easy to change the keyboard's feel, repair malfunctioning parts and otherwise exert more control over its typing experience. Those accommodations will come in handy--the SILO Beam Spring clicky switches won't be released until after launch because they need more testing.

Input Club offered Kickstarter backers a variety of rewards, including transparent PBT keycaps and a bundle of a Keystone Standard keyboard plus SILO Beam Spring clicky switches and PBT keycaps. The company expects the Keystone TKL to cost $169 and the Keystone Standard to be $199 when they officially debut.

Keystone has already raised triple its goal. There are still numerous stretch goals to meet, which start with QMK firmware support for $250,000 and end with the introduction of a white color option for $750,000. More information about Keystone and Input Club's latest SILO switches can be found on the Kono website.

Photo Credits: Input Club

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.